Single Market to Boost European Transport

Single Market to Boost European Transport

2nd March 2012

Current European transport legislations, applied since May 2010, state that an operator may carry out up to three ‘cabotage’ operations within seven days after the unloading of an international transport. Capotage operations are jobs performed by hauliers registered in another Member State.

Cabotage still accounts for only 2% of total road freight transport activities in the EU. However cabotage activities are growing. In 2010, the tonne-km generated by EU hauliers in cabotage operations was 17% higher than in 2009.

In 2010, the tonne-km generated by EU hauliers in cabotage operations was 21% higher than in 2008. This rapid growth in cabotage operations was because of the lifting, in May 2009, of the restrictions on cabotage for vehicles registered in most of the countries that joined the EU in 2004.

There is potential for further growth if the regulatory framework were to allow it.

Earlier this week, the European Commission met with stakeholders involved in the road haulage industry. As a result of the hearing, information will be reported by the European Commission in 2012 which will aim to assess the situation of the EU road haulage market and to determine whether conditions are developed for further market progression.

The European Commission is believed to be keen to build a Single European Transport Area which will benefit all modes of transport. The European Commission say that a single market with harmonized rules, framework conditions and in which restrictions on the activities of nonresident operators are kept to a minimum, if not completely eliminated, would benefit not only the transport sector but the European economy as a whole. This would contribute to an increase in growth in Europe.

The report will consider whether conditions such as effectiveness of controls, employment conditions in the profession, and enforcement of social rules have progressed to a point where further market opening can be considered. If these findings are found to be sufficient, the European Commission will accompany the report with a legislative proposal.

The reaction to push forward plans for a single market has come as a result of statistics collated from European Transport in 2010. Results showed that in 2010, almost a quarter of all vehicle-km of heavy goods vehicles in the EU involved an empty vehicle. If cabotage rules on the internal market were loosened it would allow hauliers to optimise fleet management and loads.

Under the current legislation, hauliers are limited when carrying out some non cross-border transport operations. This results in a high number of trucks in Europe running partially loaded or in some cases empty. This creates high levels of inefficiency and goes against the objective of a resource-efficient road transport sector, and against the need for an efficient European transport and logistics system which is crucial for the competitiveness of the overall European economy.

Also, by providing domestic hauliers with an instant competitive advantage in their own markets, it considerably distorts competition in the internal market.

However, while the potential benefits are easy to see in terms of increased efficiency and economic growth, it should be acknowledged that inequalities still exist between Member States in the effective enforcement of rules related to employment conditions.

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